September 3, 2008 / 6:40 PM / in 9 years

Harper promises election announcement soon

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper indicated on Wednesday he would call an October 14 general election in the next few days in the light of fruitless talks with the three opposition parties.

<p>Prime Minister Stephen Harper answers questions after delivering a speech announcing a new Polar class Arctic Icebreaker for the Canadian north to be named after former Prime Minister John G. Diefenbaker in Inuvik, Northwest Territories, August 28, 2008. REUTERS/Todd Korol</p>

The Conservative prime minister, who has had to rely on the support of at least one opposition party to keep his minority government in power, said none of the parties had given any significant indication of support.

He met the three opposition leaders at his residence from Friday through Monday, most recently talking with Liberal leader Stephane Dion, head of the largest opposition party.

“In the case of Mr. Dion he provided no assurance of any kind about this Parliament continuing very long,” Harper told a news conference in Windsor, Ontario, where he announced aid to Ford Canada.

“So look, I would say that after meeting those leaders I’ve made my decision and I’ll let the country know that decision in the next few days.”

One government official said the election call was now expected on Sunday morning.

The Conservatives were elected in January 2006 and have had one of the longest runs seen by a minority government. Typically, minority governments last about 18 months.

Recent opinion polls indicate the most likely result of a vote is another minority government, but Harper has said that whoever is prime minister after an election would have a new mandate to steer Canada through a rough economic patch.

Reporting by Randall Palmer; editing by Rob Wilson

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